Spreading awareness on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder crisis
SARASOTA - The wait list extends out over a year to be seen at The Florida Center for Early Childhood’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder diagnostic clinic.
The Center’s CEO Kathryn Shea says being the only FASD diagnostic clinic in the state comes with on onset of challenges.
“It’s a very prevalent problem, in my opinion its really more of an epidemic than the opioid crisis is and it’s really a shame because it’s affecting 1 out of 20 of our children in the state in the nation," says Shea.
She says the new narrative on the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can safely ingest is putting lives at risk.
“Part of the work that we’re doing here is to educate obstetricians, both of make women aware when they’re sitting in the office, they can read the rack card, but also to let obgyns say it’s not okay," explains Shea.
FASD director Tamra Cajo says the clinic sees a range of families in need.
“This could’ve been a generational thing where before back in the day people were drinking while they were pregnant, so it could be adults or kids that are coming through clinic," says Cajo.
She says individual problems and symptoms associated with FASD vary according to the spectrum.
“So physical features might be there’s small eyes openings is one area, a flat philtrum which is the opening between your nose and your lip, thin upper lip. But, there’s also a bunch of cognitive deficiencies that go on," says Cajo.
According to Cajo, FASD is one of the leading causes of intellectual disabilities.
Shea stresses that the message here is that if you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, drinking alcohol is not worth the risk.
Visit The Florida Center for Early Childhood for more information and resources on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.